Have you heard of this guy “Alex from Target“? If you haven’t, he’s some teenager who’s picture was posted by a girl on Twitter and within a few hours it became a meme and went viral and now everywhere “Alex from Target” is getting his faced plastered on little sayings, funny gifs and anything imaginable on social media, as well as a fandom of his own. This is on the heels of Brendan Jordan’s instant fame for his background dance moves while on the news for the opening of a mall in Las Vegas. Jordan became an instant “viral sensation”, being featured on the Queen Latifah show and even having Lady Gaga Tweeting him!
I was instantly taken with this Brendan Jordan kid. When I watched the interview with he and Queen Latifah, I was so moved by his authenticity that I cried a little bit for my 15 year old self who never felt comfortable enough to be myself. It got me thinking about these kids who become overnight viral sensations for basically doing nothing, except being themselves.
We live in a world today where authenticity is a dying art. Rarely do I meet someone who’s affect is so genuine that I am instantly attracted to their being and find myself desiring wanting to know everything about them. This used to happen to me all of the time when I surrounded myself with artsy types and musicians. When I got sober, I met a bunch of “individuals”, a term we used with much endearment in high school, who really knew their soul and danced to the beat of their own drum. But conformity is an interesting thing and I think sometimes it’s much easier to fit in and go along with the norm than being weird, different or genuinely yourself.
I’ve never fit in. Like Janis Joplin said, “I’m one of those regular weird people”. The fact is though, that it is lonely being different. I’ve learned that being weird or being different, thinking outside of the norm, isn’t how you dress, although that may be how you express it, how you laugh or talk, although that may be part of it too. No, being an individual is truly living within your own rhythm. Listening to the music within your soul and following the steps of your own dance.
I meet phonies all of the time who dress outlandishly and listen to crazy music and read crazy books, and I’m so not impressed. I’m not moved to any genuine feeling. And then I can meet some seventy year old woman who gets excited is obsessed with reggae music, eats blueberry pancakes for desert and is reading Judy Blume books for the first time, that I’m so moved by her absolute authenticity that I almost can’t stand it. I want to be that real. I want to be that unapologetic. And honestly, what am I waiting for; life is definitely too short and as my mother always said, we’re on borrowed time as it is.
A lot of people who know me will probably be confused when reading this because they probably already think of me as a little weird. While that might be true, when I’m in true weirdness, dancing around my house, or walking runway in my bedroom, or singing with a twangy country voice to the radio, people look at me strange and I restrain. I stop myself from truly dancing to the truth in my heart. And why?
Fear. Absolute fear of not fitting in or people not liking me stops me from completely being myself. For example, tonight I was going to write a rather controversial post about something I felt passionate about, but I was afraid of people’s reactions, so I wrote this instead. What a waste. Fear.
How does this relate to becoming famous in 12 hours? Well, I think we live in a society that those people who are truly themselves get noticed the quickest, and most of them don’t even care about fame. I’d be a complete liar if I told you I didn’t want to be famous. I’d love to wake up and have a million Twitter followers and have my book go viral overnight. The chances are slim, but I still hold out. It’s hard as I get older too because I realize my days are probably numbered for fame.
A few years ago, a friend commented on my interest in fame. “You seem to be pretty interested in famous people and the idea of being famous yourself.” Honestly, the comment really pissed me off. I shook it off and denied that it was true. But it was true, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I realized that somewhere down deep inside of me the idea of fame was equated to overwhelming success and acceptance. If I could become famous then that meant I had made it and people really, really liked me. For the first time in my life, I would fit in.
And the really sad part to all of this is that those thoughts go against everything I supposedly believe in. I say I don’t care about fitting in and I say I don’t care about what other people think, but buried beneath all of it is this insecure, gay fifth grader that wants everyone to like him.
So I think fuck it. Be yourself. Be true to your soul. Don’t do anything to compromise yourself. Hold the hand of that insecure fifth grader and let him dance all around the house and be happy. Who cares anyway.
And fame? Well, we don’t really have much control over that anyway, do we? These two kids above were just doing what they do best, bagging groceries and dancing, and the world decided they should be famous. It doesn’t really matter that much anyway, does it?
But then again, it would kinda be fun…